The Australian sharemarket is higher for the sixth straight session, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 0.3 per cent or 14.1 pts to 4817.00. This makes it the longest winning streak for local shares in over a month.
Overnight, global markets finished mixed. Shares in both Germany and France eased by around 0.5 per cent while shares in the U.S edged modestly higher. A report showed that there were fewer properties sold (existing home sales) in December than expected. This still didn't stop American equities (Dow) hitting a fresh 5-year high. This morning, a number of large household businesses in the U.S released their quarterly profit results. Internet giant, Google (GOOG;us) recorded a 6.7 per cent rise in its profit thanks to continued advertisement revenue growth. International Business Machines (IBM;us) rose by 4.32 per cent in after-hours trade following a 6.3 per cent rise in profit off the back of higher software sales.
Australia's biggest listed company, BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 1.2 per cent or 43.5 cents to $37.01 after impressing the market with its quarterly production result this morning. The report contained few surprises or changes to full-year guidance (profit expectations for the year). So far today, BHP is recording its second best daily gains of the month. Its shares are still down 0.23 per cent in 2013.
The country's second biggest miner, Rio Tinto (RIO) is down 0.16 per cent or 11 cents to $66.78. There have been reports that RIO is considering the sale of either part or all its coal business in Mozambique. Last week the mining giant announced the write-down of around $14 billion worth of assets in addition to the surprise resignation of Chief Executive, Tom Albanese.
The major banks are all trading higher, with Westpac (WBC) up 0.76 per cent or 20 cents to $26.69, ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) is up 0.66 per cent or 16.5 cents to $25.83, National Australia Bank (NAB) is up 0.64 per cent or 18 cents to $26.77 while Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is largely unchanged.
On the economic front, the latest inflation report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that inflation is still not a concern for the economy. This very much leaves the door open for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut rates this year if it deems it fit to do so. The latest quarterly Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.5 per cent (seasonally adjusted) over the December quarter.
No major economic news is scheduled for release in the region today, however there is plenty taking place a little further abroad. In Switzerland, the World Economic Forum (WEF) will be kicking off in the mountains of Davos. The world's political leaders and most powerful business personalities will be present. In the U.S tonight, Apple (AAPL;us), the world's biggest company will be issuing its quarterly profit numbers which always tends to receive good media coverage.
Following the start of daylight savings in October, major markets in the region will be trading between the hours mentioned below until April 2013.
The Hong Kong sharemarket trades in two sessions each day and will now open for trade between 12.30pm (AEDT) and 3pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 4pm (AEDT) and 7pm (AEDT).
Out of Japan, the first session will be between 11am (AEDT) and 1pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 2.30pm (AEDT) and 5pm (AEDT).
The Singapore exchange will be open for trade between 12pm and 3.30pm (AEDT) for the first session and then between 5pm and 8pm (AEDT) for the second.
U.S futures are currently pointing to a slightly stronger start to trade tonight. The U.S market trades between 1.30am (AEDT) and 8am (AEDT).
So far in trade at lunch, 718 million shares have been traded worth just $1.49 billion. 394 shares are up, 362 are lower and 291 are currently unchanged.
The Australian dollar (AUD) buys US105.5 cents, €79.2 cents and £66.6 pence.
The AUD is the world's fifth most traded currency behind the U.S dollar, the Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound. The AUD accounts for around 7 pct of all foreign exchange trades.
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